Christmas comes early with fall auditions

Though the weather outside is not yet frightful, many area students will channel their inner Bob Cratchits or Ebenezer Scrooges next week as Monticello High School holds auditions for a fall production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
MHS will produce a musical for the third consecutive school year, following “Grease” and “Singin’ in the Rain,” though holding auditions in September for a show that will end its run by December break is new for the activity schedule.
“Grease” had its run at the school in the spring of 2011, and “Singin’ in the Rain” opened and closed just last March following auditions last winter.
Director Kristen Gordon, who has directed the school’s musicals since “Meet Me in St. Louis” in the spring of 2009, said she looks forward to meeting more students who may have been focused on a spring sport or other activity in previous years.
Principal Jeff Lundin and Activities Director Gary Revenig note that past spring musical auditions and rehearsals intersected with the one-act play season, which forced the projects to share some stage time and many students to choose one show or the other.
Lundin said that a fall musical will introduce freshmen and other new students to the reality that there are extracurricular options beyond sports. “It’s not all athletics. There’s also some drama,” he said. “I’m kind of excited about it, and I think the kids will be, too.”
The principal and AD hope to see more interest for annual musicals, although the schedule has not necessarily pushed the program permanently into fall. “As long as the interest is here, we’re going to support it,” said Revenig. “We think it’s good not only for our school, but the community as well.
“Kids approached me on the first day and said they were excited. We want to meet the needs of our students here,” he added. “Of course, (a fall musical) is not going to work for everyone, but we’re doing as much as we can.”

Auditions will be held directly after school Monday and Wednesday, Sept. 10 and 12, and from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 11.
Gordon is looking to cast younger students in the roles of Tiny Tim and some street urchins for a children’s chorus in the production, and she is opening auditions to youth in grades four through eight (or those age 9 and older).
Monticello’s department was accepted in the Hennepin Theatre Trust program beginning with its work on “Singin’ in the Rain.” The school’s students were able to learn some techniques from professionals who were involved in producing “The Lion King” and “Les Miserables” in downtown Minneapolis, plus they welcomed a choreographer to Monticello for lessons in tap.
Gordon said she hopes to welcome a professional guest this fall that will instruct her cast in English dialects.
“Charles Dickens is my favorite author of all time,” she said. “I know (this story) is from his era, but I think it’s right on for today’s economy and today’s culture. He points out our hearts are dark to people who need help, and he asks why.”
The production is scheduled to run Friday through Sunday, Nov. 16-18, at MHS. Reserved seating will be $9, and tickets will go on sale Nov. 1.
For more information on auditions, call Gordon at 763-497-1381 or email [email protected]

By Paul Rignell